By Anton Riecher
Lytle is again searching for a city administrator after the city council voted Monday to approve a transfer for current administrator Matthew Dear back to police duty with the rank of captain.
“First and foremost, it’s been a great honor to work with you all in the position here,” Dear told the council. “But I think my heart still lies in the police department. That’s where my skill set is.”
The council approved the transfer by a 4-0 vote with District 3 Alderman David Emery absent.
Mayor Ruben Gonzalez said Dear “stepped up during a difficult time and we appreciate him doing that.”
Dear said he pursued the city administrator job as an opportunity for advancement within the city not expecting the captain position to be vacant in the near future. That position is now open due to retirement.
“If I’d have known the captain at the time was leaving I’m not sure I would have made this leap over here,” Dear said.
Dear took over as city administrator in May 2022 after training to qualify for the job. The transfer represents a reduction in salary and benefits.
“The great thing for us is he’ll still be around,” Gonzalez said. “I know that like anything else he always steps up and helps out no matter where we need him within the city.”
Gonzalez said he hoped that the transition could be made no later than the end of the year. However, District 5 Alderman Charles Cate, who made the motion in favor of the transfer, said he was concerned that finding a new city administrator would likely become a lengthy process.
“Devine has had an interim city administrator for several years now,” Cate said.
Dear said it was not his intention to leave the city “high and dry.”
“That’s never been the way I’ve operated,” he said. “Obviously, I would like to transfer as soon as possible but I understand the importance of the position I hold.”
Cate’s motion in favor of the transfer made it contingent on finding a replacement city administrator first.
Gonzalez and Cate agreed that the city administrator job is demanding.
“Whoever fills the role it’s not just about showing up and sitting behind a desk,” Gonzalez said. “This is a job where you’ve got to be out and connected.”
In other business, the council approved donation of $10,000 from hotel-motel tax revenue to the city’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post to promote local tourism.
“The new Lytle VFW hall is not even open yet and we’ve already started putting people in hotels,” said post commander Chris Clouser.
The post is planning several events involving local musicians to draw guests to the area, Clouser said. The money would also go to construction of a corn hole field with proper lighting to bring competing teams to Lytle, he said. Barbecue competitions are also in the planning stage.
Action on a request by the VFW to support its annual Patriot Day Freedom Walk was tabled for further consideration.
At the request of Mayor Gonzalez the council voted to permit Dear to survey council members on priorities for the 2023-2024 budget with Dear compiling the results and reporting back to the council.
“I asked everybody to take a look and see if there are any projects that we need to take into consideration as a way for us to go ahead and minimize going back and forth with staff,” Gonzalez said.
For example, Gonzalez listed two of his own priorities as work on the Benton City Road and developing a city capital improvement plan to help pursue grant funding.
By Anton Riecher